Last December, the lovely Vanessa Dina at Chronicle Books got in touch with me. She asked if I was interested in working on this gem of a project: illustrations for a holiday cookie cookbook with one recipe for each day of the advent calendar. I was two weeks in to having our second daughter. As I remember, at the time, part of me really wondered if I could pull it off while entertaining an antsy three year old, nursing a newborn and prepping for our first Christmas in our home. The other part of me was thinking “don’t bat a single tired eyelash, of course you’re going to do this.” So I did it. And I am so glad that I did! This was an incredibly fun and creative project to work on. Two years ago when I officially launched my business, I did not imagine I’d be working on my first book cover by this point, let alone with Chronicle Books.
So, here’s a look-see at the process of making these illustrations. Going back through these sketches, I was reminded of a very cozy time in our house. Long days, getting used to being the mama of not one, but two sweet birds; swaddling one girl and playing imaginary games with the other, catching zzz’s whenever we had the chance, and feeling really grateful for my family next to our own Christmas tree. I hope the illustrations in Cookie Advent Cookbook inspire the same feelings in you. You can pick up your own copy at Chronicle Books right HERE.
Let’s start with color! I created five color palettes in all. Here are two of the five:
And this is the final bright, cheerful palette:
Because the cover of the book would have real paper flaps that would open for each day of the advent calendar, I knew from the start that the illustrations needed to be flexible and easily moved around to accommodate the design. I decided to do the trees and decorations as separate pieces that could all be manipulated later. Here are the first round sketches of trees, trimmings and other patterns.
I worked simultaneously on hand-lettering ideas for the page numbers, title, etc.
Once we nailed down the general color and direction, I reworked details in the ornaments and trimmings. Some of these got woven into the main tree illustrations, and others became interior patterns and additions to the recipe pages.
Then I put it all together! Here are a couple of versions I played with for the cover illustration. In the end we reworked the title lettering and including a painted red banner in the final version.
And finally, here are a few shots of the final product! Such a gratifying feeling to flip through the pages of a real book and see my work all throughout! Woot! What a dream.